The School Year Begins!
Is there anything quite as deserted as an empty school? The bare playground is a stark cement sea. Serried rows of empty classrooms glower in the unseasonably cool January weather.
Then, the support staff return and there is a spark of life. A week or so later, the teachers come back. But the school is still a shell. And, then, the boys come back and life pulsates through the rooms, the halls, the corridors and the playgrounds. As I said to the boys after our beautiful Opening Mass on Friday, they fill up our school with their presence, their liveliness, their noise and with the hope and joy they bring in abundance.
The weather was shocking on Friday, but it was still a lovely day. It was wonderful to greet the Year 7 boys starting their Salesian journey and to be able to welcome their parents and guardians. Similarly, the returning Years 8 – 12 came into their school to breathe life and rich possibility into the place.
The first week has been a blur of activities: Mass, year level assemblies, classes, a very successful Year 7 Camp and the commencement of our Senior ACC sporting program makes for a very full schedule. It was a shame that we had to postpone our House Swimming Carnival to Tuesday 16 March because of rainy weather. Whilst it is probably too early to be making definitive statements, it did appear that the experiences of 2020 have made us all really appreciate the importance of our school and the relationships which flow through our community. For instance, being able to have parents back in the Canteen helping Barb, Julie and Jen is a small but powerful example of how bonds and community are built by collaborative work.
I think everyone is still experiencing at least some level of COVID-related apprehension at this time. How could we not? The memories of last year are still very raw; the virus hasn’t gone away; the vaccine rollout will take months to complete; and our current situation show how rapidly and drastically circumstances can change. We are abiding by the regulations detailed in the School Operations Guide which is produced by the Catholic Education of Victoria. The boys are doing a great job, too, in wearing their facemasks whilst indoors.
New College Board
On New Year’s Day, the College, together with the other Salesian-owned schools in Glenorchy (Tasmania) and Sunbury became an incorporated entity. In many ways, there will be little that is discernibly different as a consequence of this change. Importantly, however, a formally constituted Board has replaced the Advisory Council. This means, in essence, that the Principal is immediately accountable to the Board rather than directly to the Salesian Provincial, Fr. Will Matthews. The members of the Board are: Fr. Greg Chambers (College Rector and Interim Chair), Fr. Bernie Graham (Provincial’s Nominee), Mr Stephen Moloney, Mrs Rosemary Fazio, Mrs Rita Davis, Mr Philip Heaphy and Professor Peter Foley. Mr Noel Kennedy (College Business Manager) and I make up the team. With the exception of Fr. Bernie and myself, all of the remaining members of the Board had previously been on our Advisory Council. The Board members know our school well and bring a great deal of expertise to their roles. Therefore, I think that we can look forward a strong sense of continuity driven by our new governance structure. Brief biographies of our Board members can be accessed here.
In closing, I would like to thank all members of staff for their hard work in getting the school year underway. They, and the boys, have been just great. I would also like to wish you and your families every blessing for the year ahead.
Mr Neil Carter